The Ladies Who Served: Anne of Cleves

When Anne of Cleves came to England she had brought along a group of her own ladies to serve her as queen. The French ambassador at the time is quoted as saying:

She brings in her suite twelve or fifteen damsels as maids of honor, all dressed in the same fashion and with same vestments which she herself wears – a thing which has seemed rather strange in this place.

The ladies that Anne of Cleve brought with her were less attractive than Anne herself and dressed in what was considered unattractive fashion, by English standards.

Not long after being in England a large number of Anne’s ladies were sent home and replaced by roughly thirty English ladies to serve her. Here is the list of ladies who served Anne of Cleves. This list could not be shared with you without the amazing research by Kate Emerson of “A Who’s Who of Tudor Women”. Her research has allowed me to compile the below list into one post to share with you. Please take the time to check out her site: A Who’s Who of Tudor Women

Great Ladies of the Household

Mary Arundell, Countess of Sussex

Mary was the daughter of Sir John Arundell and his second wife, Catherine Grenville.

Mary Arundell was a maid of honor to Queen Jane Seymour before she married Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex on January 14, 1537 – she was his third wife.

Mary remained at court as one of Queen Jane’s ladies after her marriage until the queen’s death and returned as one of the Great Ladies of the Household to Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard.

Mary had two sons by the Earl of Sussex, Henry (the king’s godson) and John. After the death of her husband she married Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel on the 19th of December 1545, as his second wife.

Mary Arundell

Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset

Frances was the daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII).

Frances married Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset in 1533. The couple had three daughters, Lady Jane, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary as well ashad a girl and a boy who died young.

Frances was a prominent figure at court during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

After the deaths of her father and half brothers, her husband was granted the Suffolk title, making Frances Duchess of Suffolk and creating occasional confusion with her stepmother, Catherine Willoughby.

Frances is believed to have been an active participant in the plot to marry her daughter Jane to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland’s son, Guildford Dudley with the plot to place them on the throne in place of Mary Tudor. Whether or not this is true may never be known. When Mary Tudor took the throne back from Lady Jane Grey after the death of her brother, Edward VI, Frances Brandon was not imprisoned. Her husband and daughter were eventually executed and Frances was spared.

On the 9th of March 1554, Frances married Adrian Stokes who was her master of horse. It is believed that they had three children who died young.

Frances retired from public life after her marriage. She had suffered from poor health since at least the summer of 1552. She was at Sheen in October of 1559 when the earl of Hertford approached her for permission to marry her daughter, Catherine. Frances gave it, but she did not live to see the disastrous result. When she died, her two daughters and several close friends were with her.

Frances Brandon

Lady Margaret Douglas

Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor (sister to Henry VIII) by her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Margaret was half sister of James V of Scotland and granddaughter of Henry VII of England.

Margaret was born at Harbottle castle in England because her mother, Margaret Tudor was fleeing from Scotland, seeking shelter with her brother, Henry VIII.

When she was barely fifteen, she was appointed chief lady in waiting to her cousin, Princess Mary. Only three years later, she was at court as one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies.

Margaret Douglas was in and out of trouble all her life. She formed two unacceptable romantic alliances with English suitors and was confined for a time after each incident. She may actually have married Thomas Howard (1512-October 29, 1537), one of the Duke of Norfolk’s half-brothers. Thomas died in the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned for his liaison with Margaret. Margaret remained close to Thomas Howard’s niece, Mary Howard, duchess of Richmond, who had been married to Henry FitzRoy.

On the 6th of July 1544, Margaret married Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. The couple had two sons who survived to adulthood, Henry, Lord Darnley and Charles, Earl of Lennox.

Shortly before the death of Henry VIII, Margaret argued with the king over a matter of religion (she remained a devout Catholic all her life) and was disinherited.

Margaret was high in favor under Queen Mary, but under Queen Elizabeth she was under arrest on three separate occasions, once on suspicion of witchcraft and treason, once because her son, Lord Darnley, had married the queen of Scots, and once because she conspired to marry her other son, Charles, to Elizabeth Cavendish.

Margaret Douglas

Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

Elizabeth Grey was the daughter of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquis of Dorset and Margaret Wotton.

On the 22nd of April 1538, she married Thomas, Baron Audley of Walden. The couple had two daughters, Margaret and Mary.

In her widowhood, Elizabeth lived at Audley End, near Saffron Walden. Her daughter Margaret, who had become duchess of Norfolk by her marriage, came to her there to give birth to each of her children.

Further reading: Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

Elizabeth Grey

Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond

Mary Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Stafford.

Mary was a maid of honor to her cousin, Anne Boleyn and was married to Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII with Bessie Blount. The couple married on the 26th of November 1533, but they never lived together.

Henry VIII tried to use non-consummation of the marriage as an excuse not to support Mary in her widowhood, however, by 1540, she had been granted a number of former church properties and had an income in excess of £744 per annum.

Following the death of her husband, Mary lived mostly at Kenninghall when she was not at court.

Mary Howard was part of the household of Catherine Howard but send back to Kenninghall in November 1541 when the queen’s household was disbanded.

There was talk of a marriage with Thomas Seymour, as early as 1538 and the idea was revisited in 1546. Mary’s brother, Surrey was opposed to the idea and Mary as well was not too keen to the idea of marriage with Seymour.

In December 1546, when Mary’s father and brother were arrested on charges of treason, she was forced to give evidence against them, but managed to say very little of use. After Surrey was executed, Mary was given charge of his children. She established a household at Reigate and employed John Foxe to educate them. Unlike most of the rest of the Howards, Mary adopted the New Religion, which meant she fell out of favor when Queen Mary came to the throne. She did remain close to her father, however, and when he died he left her £500.

Mary Howard

Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland

Eleanor Paston was the daughter of Sir William Paston and Bridget Heydon.

She married Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland, as his second wife, sometime before 1523. The couple had eleven children: Anne, Elizabeth, Gertrude, Henry, Sir John, Frances, Roger, Sir Thomas, Oliver, Isabel, and Catherine.

In between giving birth, she participated in the ceremony creating Anne Boleyn marchioness of Pembroke and accompanied the new marchioness and the king to France in October 1532. She was on the summer progress of 1536 and was one of the chief mourners at the funeral of Jane Seymour. She may have been part of Anne Boleyn’s household. She was definitely a lady of the privy chamber to Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Howard.

Eleanor was quarantined at her manor in July 1537, after a member of her household came down with the Sweating Sickness. She was back at court the following month, just in time to take Catherine Bassett, stepdaughter of Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, under her wing and look after her until Catherine was awarded a post in the household of Anne of Cleves in August 1540. T

Eleanor Paston


Privy Chamber:

Jane Guildford, Lady Dudley

Jane Guildford was the daughter of Sir Edward Guildford and Eleanor West.

In late 1525 or early 1526, she married her father’s ward, John Dudley. They had thirteen children: Henry, Thomas, John, Ambrose, a second Henry, Mary, Robert, Guildford, Katherine, and four others—Charles, Margaret, Frances, and Temperance—who died under the age of ten.

Jane was successively Lady Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, Countess of Warwick, and Duchess of Northumberland. Although she did not take an active role in her husband’s political career, she was at court as a lady of the Privy Chamber to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr and during the reign of Edward VI.

After the failure of Northumberland’s attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England in place of Mary Tudor and Northumberland’s execution, Jane went to live with her daughter, Mary Sidney, at Penshurst, Kent, until Queen Mary granted her the use of her Chelsea dower house.

Jane’s son Guildford (husband of Lady Jane Grey), was executed in 1554 while her other sons remained prisoners in the Tower. On the 2nd of May 1554 she herself was pardoned.

That summer Jane was at court a lot to petition the release her sons. The eldest, John, was released from the Tower in early October 1554. Ambrose, Robert, and Henry were released by early 1555, before their mother’s death at Chelsea.

Jane Dudley

Susanna Hornebolt, Mrs. Gilman

Susanna Horenboult was the daughter of Gheraert Horenboult and Margaret Sanders.

Susanna’s father and brother, Lucas, were among the king’s painters at the court of Henry VIII. Lucas was employed in 1525 and Gerard by 1528. Susanna herself was an illuminator and miniature painter who had gained recognition on the Continent before coming to England around 1522 to work as an artist for Henry VIII. She was assigned to the queen’s household rather than being listed as an artist.

Around 1526, Susanna married John Parker, who was Yeoman of the Wardrobe and Keeper of the Palace of Westminster. When they married she may have stopped painting professionally.

The same year her husband died, Susanna lost her place in the queen’s household due to the death of Jane Seymour and by 1538 she was in serious financial difficulties. She had no children by Parker.

On the 22nd of September 1539, Susanna married John Gylmyn or Gilman in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster. He was a widower with a young daughter and a freeman of the vintner’s company, as well as holding a position at court. Two weeks later, Susanna was sent to Anne of Cleves as a personal ambassador from King Henry, and possibly as a spy. She was supplied with £40 for travel expenses and issued livery and was gone from England for three months. She joined the household of Anne of Cleves in Dusseldorf and accompanied the future queen to England. Anne made Susanna her chief gentlewoman and provided her with servants of her own.

At Calais in December, delayed by bad weather, “Mrs. Gylmyn” taught Anne of Cleves to play a card game called Cent (an early form of piquet). Susanna remained in Anne’s household as a gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber until Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled.

The couple had two sons and at least two daughters, including Henry and Anne. In 1543, Susanna was back at court as part of Katherine Parr’s household. She remained at court under Edward VI.

Susanna Hornebolt

Isabel Legh, Lady Baynton

Isabel Legh, sometimes called Isabel Howard, was the daughter of Ralph Legh and Joyce Culpepper and thus a half sister of Queen Catherine Howard. T

She married Edward Baynton on the 18th of January 1531 and had by him three children, Henry, Francis and Anne.

Her husband was vice chamberlain to several of Henry VIII’s queens. It is believed that Isabel served Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves. The History of Parliament entry for her husband says that by the 14th of March 1539, the couple had replaced Lady Kingston in supervising the joint household of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor.

Isabel was also at court during the tenure of her half sister, Catherine Howard.

When Queen Catherine was sent to Syon House in the autumn of 1541, she was allowed to choose her own female attendants, on the condition that Isabel was one of them. Isabel also accompanied Catherine to the Tower. She was later a lady of the household extraordinary to Kathryn Parr.

According to Charlotte Merton in The Women who served Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, she was also part of Queen Mary’s household in 1554-7.

There are no portraits of Isabel Legh

Jane Parker, Lady Rochford

Jane Parker was the daughter of Henry Parker, 8th Baron Morley and Alice St. John.

Jane is best known as Lady Rochford, wife and then widow of George Boleyn, brother to Anne. The couple were married in 1525 and had no children.

She gave evidence to help King Henry VIII annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves, but during the tenure of Queen Catherine Howard, it was Jane who helped the young queen betray her husband. Just how involved Jane was, and whether she was the villainous creature history has painted her, are subject to much debate. Her own evidence in interrogations in 1541 is disjointed and contradictory and she is said to have run mad when she realized she would be executed along with the queen. It was a letter in Catherine Howard’s handwriting that condemned her. The queen wrote to Thomas Culpepper to “come when my Lady Rochford is here, for then I shall be at leisure to be your commandment.”

Further Reading: Jane Boleyn: Victim of History

There are no portraits of Jane Parker

Catherine St. John, Lady Edgecumbe

Catherine St. John was the daughter of Sir John St. John and Sybil Morgan.

Her first marriage was in 1507 to Sir Griffith ap Rhys. The couple had a daughter, Mary Griffith.

Her second husband was Sir Piers Edgecumbe – she was his second wife as well.

Her second husband had three sons and four daughters by his first wife, Jane Dernford. In 1524-5, Sir Peter and his wife Catherine were sent three gallons of wine “at their first homecoming.” In November 1531, her stepson, Rhys ap Gruffydd, was attainted for treason but her jointure was protected. She was receiving about £72/year in 1532. There was an outbreak of measles in the household in March 1534. Catherine was executor of her husband’s will in 1539. M. St. Clare Byrne identifies Catherine as the Lady Edgecumbe who was a lady of the Privy Chamber to Anne of Cleves in 1540. Although other sources say that was Winifred Essex, her stepson’s wife, Winifred may not yet have been married and in any case would not have been Lady Edgecumbe because her husband was not knighted until 1542. The “Lady Edgecumbe” who served Catherine Howard in the Privy Chamber was probably also Catherine Edgecumbe, for the same reasons. Catherine made her will on December 4, 1553, at Cothele, Cornwall and it was proved on December 12, 1553. In it she names a daughter Mary Luttrell (wife of Sir John Luttrell), to whom she leaves the household goods at Dunster, Somerset, that had belonged to Sir Griffith ap Rhys.

There are no portraits of Catherine St. John


Gentlewomen in Attendance:

Jane Ashley, Lady Mewtas

Jane Cheney, Lady Wriothesley

Elizabeth Seymour, Lady Cromwell

Catherine Skipwith, Lady Heneage

Maids of Honor (6)

Anne Bassett
Dorothy Bray
Catherine Carey
Catherine Howard
Mary Norris
Ursula Stourton

Mistress of the Queen’s Maids:

Mother Lowe
Margaret (or Anne) Foliot, Mrs. Stonor


Emerson, Kate; A Who’s Who of Tudor Women
Evans, Victoria Silvia; Who’s Who at the Tudor Court
Evans, Victoria Silvia; Ladies in Waiting: Women Who Served at the Tudor Court

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Anne of Cleves History

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I am most interested in the Catherine St. John marriage to Griffeth ap Rhys. You show His son Gruffed 1508 as her step son? Who was his mother? He was executed on Tower hill Jan 4, 1531 in the plot alleged by the King as The Red Hand of Scotland and The Raven, and the king took back all the rewards given to grandfather Sir Rhys ap Thomas hero of Bosworth field and who brought the battle crown to Henry VII. The entire Dynvor Rice family descends from Gruffed’s sons by Catherine Howard-Bridgewater. DCR

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